Burlington voters will see five contested city council races this March — several of which could turn out to be competitive.
In the New North End, Democrat Tom Ayres and Republican Jim Robert will duke it out for a Ward 7 seat being vacated by Republican Councilor Vince Dober. Though the district tends to be the most conservative in the city, Ayres only narrowly lost a race last year to a well known incumbent Republican, Paul Decelles.
On Monday, the day petitions to run were due at City Hall, Democrats announced their own candidate: neighborhood activist and local banker Emily Lee (pictured), a vice president at the downtown Merrill Lynch branch. The cofounder of the West Hill Neighborhood Association says she's particularly focused on housing.
"I've been really active here in the neighborhood and my feeling was we have a great deal of momentum going to improve Ward 2," she said. "I think we need more housing options — more housing built, so we have choices of where to live."
Democrats are also fielding a candidate, Tom Derenthal, for the Ward 1 seat held by independent Councilor Sharon Bushor for nearly 26 years.
Last week we reported that Rep. Kurt Wright (R-Burlington), a former city councilor and 2012 mayoral candidate, was interested in returning to the council if his friend and former campaign manager, Councilor Dave Hartnett (D-Ward 4), chose not to run for reelection. As it turns out, Hartnett is in — and Wright is out.
"This was always about whether Dave wanted to run for the seat or not," Wright said over the weekend. "Dave had let a number of us know he did not want to run again, up until just recently."
"It's fine that he decided to run. My only disappointment is to learn about it in the press — for him not to tell me himself," Wright said. "For me, loyalty and friendship is more important than politics every day of the week."
Here's a complete list of city council candidates, as provided by Lori Olberg from the Burlington City Clerk's office. Note: Asterisk denotes incumbent.